Repotting Season

Repotting Season

If you plan to have plants for a while, I can confidently predict repotting in your future. While the foliage grows visibly, the roots are growing beneath the soil, and eventually they’ll reach the edges of the pot and need more room to expand.

Before you keep reading, take a second to pat yourself on the back. While in some cases repotting is a last ditch effort to treat an issue, it’s more likely the result of the plant outgrowing its current pot. Having a plant thrive so much that it needs a larger home is a really cool achievement for new plant parents. On behalf of everyone at Slow Green Death (so far it’s just me lol), you’re doing great!!

Although repotting is something every plant parent will have to do, it can be tricky if you don’t have experience with it yet. When should you do it? What soil can you use? How big of a pot does my plant need?

This post takes you through when you should repot and all the methods and materials that  have worked for my indoor jungle thus far. 

When should you repot a plant?

Transplanting homes can be stressful for everyone, including houseplants. We want to make sure our plant is ready to take on a new environment and avoid just repotting whenever and how often we feel like it. 

Unless you’re worried about root rot and need to transfer a plant out of soil that’s been too soggy, it’s better to wait until the soil dries out to repot. Dry plants are lighter and easier to manipulate, dry soil is easier to separate from roots and it’s MUCH easier to clean up when you’re done. 

As far as when your plant is ready, there are some surface clues you can look for that can indicate it’s time for a larger pot. Some signs could be sad leaves despite no changes to a well established watering routine or light source, water draining more quickly than before, or if your plant seems significantly more thirsty than normal. 

No matter what the foliage looks like, though, whether a plant is ready for a repot is ultimately up to its roots. The root system needs to be at a point where it can expand into more soil, meaning the space in the current pot should be mostly taken up by roots. 

Take a peek at the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. If roots are growing out of the bottom or if roots are all you can see, those are pretty sure signs that the plant is ready for more soil. 

This Monstera Peru is roooooootbound, so much so that there’s barely any soil left in this plastic grow pot. This is an example of a root system begging for more soil.

If nothing looks too suspicious or complex, you have the option to leave the plant in its current pot for a bit longer. If you want to repot though, you’ll have to take the plant out of it’s pot to see whether the roots are ready for more soil or not. 

Whether this is easy to do or not depends on what kind of pot your plant is in. If it’s in a ceramic pot or something nice, I’d leave it in there until it’s more obvious that it needs a bigger home. 

However if it’s in the plastic grow pot, you can work the plant out by squeezing the sides of the pot a little bit and gently pulling the plant out by the base of its foliage.

This little jade plant baby is still developing her root system and it is not complex enough for me to justify a repot, so I’ll leave her in this grow pot for this whole season and revisit it next spring.

How do you repot a plant?


Get your plant’s new home ready first.

  • The new pot should be 1-2” larger than the current pot, and please pick something with a drainage hole. Jumping too drastically can overwhelm roots with too much soil, so this is a solid guideline when looking for your plant’s next home. 

  • Get your soil prepped.

    • A general, pre-mixed potting soil is pretty solid and worked for most of my plants for a while, so this is a good quick option for beginners. Large bags can usually be found at any garden center or hardware store.

    • If you want to get fancy (it’s kind of fun), most plants prefer a soil mix that drains water through it quickly, so everything I add contributes to better drainage. Here’s my go-to mixture right now, with everything I use linked:

  • If there are any plugs, price tags, etc. blocking the drainage hole, remove them now while it’s empty - this is way more difficult when the pot is full of dirt.

  • Put some of the soil mixture in the bottom of the pot to build a base. Fill it to about a quarter full, or enough to where the plant will sit on it at a good height.

    • A “good height” guideline - there should be about an inch between the top of the pot and the base of the plant, and when you’re done repotting, the base of the plant should be met by the top of the soil. 


Take the plant out of its current pot.

  • Do this over a tarp or a surface you don’t mind getting dirty and can clean up easily. I just found these awesome repotting trays on Amazon that are perfect for repotting inside and make clean up really simple. 

  • Tip the plant over, support the foliage gently with one hand and kind of dump the plant out of the pot.

    • If it’s in a plastic grow pot, you can squeeze the sides to help work the plant out. The drainage holes at the bottom can be used to gently push the plant out as well if you can do so without damaging a bunch of roots. If it’s really stubborn, you can cut the pot away from the plant, carefully avoiding any roots.

    • If the pot is ceramic, terra cotta, or another hard material, you can gently pull the plant by it’s base to help it work out of the pot. Drainage holes can be used to push the plant up & out of the pot, again if you can do so carefully. Worst case scenario, you might need to break the pot to remove it from the plant.

  • Once the plant is out of the pot, you’ll need to gently untangle the root system and old soil so that the roots are as free as they can be. Some breakage is bound to happen, but it can be avoided if you’re careful and take your time. 

    • Doing this under running, room-temperature water can help stubborn root balls loosen a bit more easily. 


Put your plant in its new home.

  • Put the newly freed-up root system down into the pot and hold the plant upright and centered in the position you think looks best.

  • While holding it in place, add your soil mixture to the pot, as evenly as you can around the base of plant.

    • After maybe every 3” of soil added (depending on the size of the pot), stop and gently pack down and in to support the plant.

  • Fill the empty space with soil up until there’s around an inch of space between the top of the soil and the top edge of the pot

  • Gently pack the soil down and in to support the plant, adding more soil if need be to raise the level back up to where it should be.

    • Repeat until the plant is secure in the soil, meaning it can stand up on its own and moving the pot doesn’t disrupt it. 

This is the same Monstera Peru about three weeks after it’s repot! Happy and growing.

Almost done! If your plant’s soil was wet when you transplanted it, give it a day or two before you water it again. If your plant’s soil was dry when you repotted it (ideal), it will need a nice thorough drink of water in its new pot. This helps settle the roots into their new soil and kick off the plant’s process of growing into it’s new space. 


Like with anything, the more you repot plants, the better you’ll get at it. This applies to all things plant care. Slow Green Death is here to help you get started, but the best way to get better at it is to try it. So, happy repotting!


If you have any more questions or could use a walkthrough, you’ve come to the right place. Slow Green Death would love to hear from you over on the Services page and we’ll get you and your plants taken care of. 

Thanks for reading and may all your plants’ deaths be Slow and Green,





Original post date: May 2, 2023

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